Shelee asked for it. Nina inspired it. Jacki introduced me to it.
At Jacki’s pre-wedding Octoberfest / rehearsal dinner, her mother in law made Sauerkraut. I only kind of watched her, because I didn’t really like Sauerkraut, but she seemed to be doing something other than dumping it out of a jar. I was still at the point of my observance of this family that I found humor in all the things they did that were clearly taken from some other world – like Nina asking someone to go get juniper berries from the yard, or asking who had a little surplus goose fat. Seriously, who has goose fat on hand? Who cooks goose? Turns out, they do. And turns out, it makes a mean Sauerkraut.
I should have been sick. Honestly, I think I ate at least 2 pounds of Nina’s divine Sauerkraut in two days, protecting it in Jacki’s fridge until I ate the last of it. I begged for the secret family recipe.
The thing is, some things are easier for other people to do, and it quickly became obvious that I would never have goose fat on hand. I did try and collect juniper berries on a few camping trips, but it didn’t really work out. So I have edited and minimized the original recipe, and augmented it with some Martha Stewart stuff, and some of my Austrian neighbors tricks.
So here is how I make it (sometimes too often for Phil’s taste).
- Melt butter in pan.
- Add 5 or 6 slices of Kielbasa, or Andoiulle sausage – preferably something your husband shot. It’s okay if it comes apart, so the seasonings are free of their restrictive casing.
- Cook the sausage a little.
- Add one onion, and I like to sliver it, if that is a word for cutting onions in ribbons. I like to believe if I cut it thin enough, you might mistake it for part of the Sauerkraut. Cook until golden (that is the word I took from Martha)
- Peel and Sliver one small apple – I usually use granny smith, since that is my favorite, but last night I used a pink lady and it wasn’t so sour. Add the apple to the pan and cook for a while. Add a little more butter if needed.
- Open a jar of Sauerkraut, and pour all the juice down the sink. Rinse the Sauerkraut with water a couple times, and keep dumping out the juice. When it stops smelling so much like Sauerkraut, pour the Sauerkraut it in the pan, and then fill the jar with water, and add to the pan.
- If I feel like it, I might add a little beef bouillon here. If I don’t, I don’t. Same story for bay leaf. Sometimes. Sometimes not.
- Peel and quarter potatoes, and add.
- Cook. Until you are hungry. The potatoes always seem firm when I do it this way, and I am sure there is some chemical reason but cook until the potatoes are done. If they seem firm too long, try one.
Steam the rest of the sausage in a separate pan, and serve.
Forecasts call for a whole bunch more sun this week. Maybe it is time for some stew…